September 2005


Rainbow Flags

It’s not so common in the States, but in Europe, one cannot assume that the rainbow flag is a symbol of gay pride. Stick the Italian word “PACE” on the flag, and suddenly the flag is symbolic of the peace movement.

So when I saw a group of young adults marching down the street in Weimar yesterday waving the rainbow flag, I checked before thinking it was a gay pride parade-which it was not.

Rather it was a group marching behind the “PACE” flag gathering attention the most natural way they could and propelling me 4,500 miles away to Saturday afternoons, (American) football games, and marching bands. The beating of drums was an attention getter, and a crowd of people watched this rag-tag group march around Theatreplatz and come to a halt, flag waving with enthusiastic drumming.

And it struck me that there is an inherent problem using drums for a “peace” march.

I cannot think of a single incident where drums are used as a motivator for peace in my entire life.

As a child reading about drums usually involved preparation for war. In the children’s literature of my day, the Indians would beat their drums preparing to do battle against white man. Drummers also accompanied our heroic soldiers marching them into war.

Even when I think about Marching Bands at college, the marches are all about preparing the spectators for war as we prepared to do battle against Colorado State or BYU.

It is an odd thing to consider. Drums really are the most violent musical instrument we have-the inherent motion of banging the drum, and the resulting reverberating sounds are hardly peaceful. On the other hand I cannot really imagine getting attention with violins or harps.

Random Notes: I’ve posted the rest of my UK and Ireland photos, as well as most of my Budapest photos. Be sure you check out Flickr!

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